The Section of Energy and Natural Resources

The Allerhand Public Policy Programme — Energy and Natural Resources addresses the need for a comprehensive regulatory analysis of energy sector both in the area of new energy sources (unconventional gas, renewable energy resources, etc.) and in relation to the challenges faced by Polish industry sector (which uses coal as its primary energy source) due to the global and European climate policy (clean coal technologies, including CCS, emissions trading, industrial emissions, etc.). Poland lacks a university think tank dealing with energy policy that would produce recommendations on the shape of regulatory policy both on the national and European level and that would apply the methods of law and economics in its activity.

Such think tanks are operating both in Europe and in the United States. These include Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic, Center for Law, Energy & Environment at Berkeley Law School, Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy, Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School or Tilburg Sustainability Center.

We are currently planning to organise Shale Gas Summit 2012 and to publish a report entitled “The exploitation of unconventional gas resources — Regulatory challenges”.

Due to the planned exploitation of unconventional gas resources (including tight and shale gas) it is necessary to analyse current legislation in the field of new extraction technologies and to make recommendations on new regulations relating to the specific character of unconventional deposits, including geological and mining law, environmental protection law and financial aspects of extractive activities.

In some jurisdictions it is forbidden to use hydraulic fracturing while extracting gas (Quebec, Canada; the state of New York, United States; France and Bulgaria; New South Wales, Australia; South Africa, etc.), however in most of them such activity is allowed.

It should be noted that numerous studies are inconsistent when it comes to the issue whether hydraulic fracturing is harmful to the environment (pollution of groundwater and soil). This pollution risk is not the only problem related to the exploitation of unconventional gas; the following issues should also be taken into consideration: water supplies (this technology requires large amounts of water), waste storage and disposal (these include chemicals used for fracturing/crushing), emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, noise, land rehabilitation, protection of deposits that are no longer in use, damages to landscape, threat to plants and animals, seismic danger, extraction of radioactive substances, etc.

These risks, as well as obvious advantages arising from the exploitation of such deposits (national energy security, energy prices, departure of national power plants from the use of black coal, etc.) result in a heated discussion on the exploitation of unconventional gas (and particularly on hydraulic fracturing) being conducted not only in Poland, but also in other countries. These include United States (both at the federal level, including EPA, and at the state and local level), Canada (including provincial authorities) and the European Union (European Commission and Member States). The outcome of these discussion leads to different laws and regulations being enacted (these include the ban on hydraulic fracturing, strict restrictions and monitoring or no governmental interference at all), which act as helpful references that could be used to analyse the existing problems and to work out the best solutions for Poland.

The experts of the Allerhand Institute are currently working on a report addressing the need of regulation for the exploitation of unconventional gas in Poland.

This report will focus on the analysis of Polish, European, American and Canadian laws on environmental protection and water management, as well as on licensing and management procedures for the exploitation of deposits. It will suggest solutions that could be adapted in Poland, in the context of all risks and available approaches to the problem.

Due to the fact that our work focuses on comparative legal analysis, we have invited some leading think-tanks from the United States, Canada and the Netherlands to participate in the preparation of the report. These entities have large experience in providing lawmaking advisory services and in analysing the effects of regulations.

Allerhand Shale Gas Summit conferences

We are planning to conduct a series of conferences entitled Allerhand Shale Gas Summit that would bring together the representatives of Polish administration authorities and EU institutions, as well as the representatives of mining industry, NGOs and experts dealing with legal, economic and technical aspects of environmental protection, extractive activities and energy market. The first conference shall take place in May 2012. It will be a discussion forum for all stakeholders that are interested in regulating the issues of the extraction of unconventional gas and their advisers, as well as for the representatives of national and EU institutions, scientists, NGOs and for the representatives of local communities.

More information on Shale Gas Summit — Spring 2012 coming soon!

More information on the Allerhand Public Policy Programme — Energy and Natural Resources can be obtained from Arkadiusz Radwan, PhD and Michał Kłaczyński.